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November 23, 1990 – Queen began filming ‘Headlong’ promo video which was directed by DoRo (Torpedo Twins) at Metropolis Studios over the course of two days.

By this point, the band and those close to them knew that Freddie was on borrowed time, and that they would never again perform live as a four-piece. However, it was felt important to maintain the perception that they could still tour when they were ready to do so, and the performance footage filmed in Metropolis Recording Studios in London (where the band recorded much of Innuendo) is startlingly energetic considering the seriousness of Freddie’s condition. He may have looked slightly frailer than in previous years, but he was still darting around as he had always done.

The second day of filming was spent in the control room and relaxation suite in the studio, as the band played around for the camera. Again, Freddie seemed surprisingly energetic, and was certainly enjoying the experience, perhaps knowing all too well that it would never happen again, as his final two video shoots were intensely grueling for him physically.

Brian May said in an interview in 2011, “There was a lot of joy, strangely enough, Freddie was in pain . . . but inside the studio there was a sort of blanket around, and he could be happy and enjoy what he liked doing best. . . . Sometimes it would only last a couple of hours a day because he would get very tired. But during that couple of hours, boy, would he give a lot.

Producer Dave Richards said, “He was dying when he did those songs, and he knew he would be dead when they were finished because he said to me, ‘I’m going to sing it now because I can’t wait for them to do music on this. Give me a drum machine and they’ll finish it off.’”

Here’s the video clip

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November 24, 1983 – Queen completed their three day filming of ‘Radio GaGa’ promo video @ Shepperton Studios in London. It was directed by David Mallet.

The video for the track has since become a firm favourite among both casual and diehard fans alike, and was one of the most expensive Queen ever made. At a cost of more than £110,000, the epic piece was shot by David Mallet and paid homage to Fritz Lang’s 1926 expressionist masterpiece Metropolis.

At the time, famed disco producer Georgio Moroder was reworking what footage still survived of the heavily damaged film (its distributors had edited the film and much of the excised footage was lost until a chance rediscovery of sections of it less than a decade prior), and adding colour filters and a contemporary score – which Freddie had agreed to contribute to.

Freddie’s song, Love Kills, cowritten with Moroder and featuring an uncredited Brian May and Roger Taylor, became a hit single later in 1984, and featured in a key scene of the reworked film. The Radio Ga Ga promo included different scenes from Metropolis, and the rights to these were bought by the band and Jim Beach directly from the German government.

Much of the rest of the video used sets loosely based on those in the film: the machine the film’s hero Freder operates, for example, was recreated in vibrant colours for Freddie to work. Another set piece also required five hundred extras to become the faceless workers who stand before the band, their heads bowed, clapping their hands in a manner now familiar to every hardened Queen fan (particularly those who would later perform the same move whenever the band perform the song on tour). For this, David Mallet turned to members of the fan club, who once again found the required number of more than willing fans at incredibly short notice, spending all of 23rd November 1983 under very hot lights at Shepperton Studios in London with only a short break for lunch. Yet as ever, the fans were on top form, and outshone the band, who kept forgetting their timing!

Roger Taylor penned this fantastic song as a commentary on television overtaking radio’s popularity and how one would listen to radio in the past for a favourite comedy, drama, or science fiction programme. It also addressed the advent of the music video and MTV, which was then competing with radio as an important medium for promoting records.

At the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards the video for “Radio Ga Ga” would receive a Best Art Direction nomination. Roger Taylor was quoted:

“That’s part of what the song’s about, really. The fact that they [music videos] seem to be taking over almost from the aural side, the visual side seems to be almost more important.”

Originally, this was “Radio Ca-Ca,” which was something Roger Taylor’s son Felix exclaimed one day in trying to say the radio was bad (“radio, CACA!). The phrase stuck with Taylor and inspired the anti-commercial radio themes in the lyrics. Of course the band asked for a rewrite from Ca-Ca to Ga Ga.

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He sang every form in the business—rock, pop, blues, country, soul, disco, opera—without disgracing any of them. Music loves to dance in the voice of a great singer and Freddie had a superlative voice. It was as if he didn’t really “hit” notes: he would more or less sweep them. As rock ‘n’ roll landmarks go, the Mercury voice had the range of the Matterhorn and the complexity of the Eiffel Tower.

Brian May

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Queen Live November 26, 1975, The band performed at Free Trade Hall in Manchester, England. “A Night At The Opera” Tour

Queen play two sold-out shows today (at 6pm and 9pm), and this listing highlights the earlier show.

After Sweet Lady, Freddie says, “By the way, I forgot to say how nice it is to be here in Manchester. And it’s really nice to do two shows, so see you in the second half.”

This show is the first known instance of Brighton Rock being played live, and it contains a superb Brian May guitar solo. Son And Daughter is now reduced to a single verse after the solo. People attending their shows during this period who knew the albums well would be wondering how the band would end the song, taking note of how they already had ended Flick Of The Wrist with the Brighton Rock coda (it had been performed this way since November ’74, and would remain as such through 1976).

In a 1976 radio interview, Roger reveals that Brighton Rock was actually a leftover from the Queen II sessions, as they thought they’d had enough material. About its life on stage, Brian added: “We didn’t think we could do the main part of the song on stage, because it’s got quite a lot on it on the album, a lot of overdubs and stuff. But strangely enough, it’s just one of those things, if you try hard enough it comes, and the excitement makes up for the things which aren’t there.”

“It’s now time to do another number from this little album here.” He’s holding a copy of the newly released A Night At The Opera in his hand. “Let me see, let me see. I think we’ll do a number called The Prophet’s Song.”

They decide to skip out on Big Spender, and instead launch directly into Jailhouse Rock after Now I’m Here.

There are some great moments in this show, like John’s great bass work in White Queen, and the guitar-drum interplay during the Liar solo. Overall, the band’s ultimate tightness (and often daring nature) in the early days shines through. This facet of Queen is one of many that would define them as a live band in the 70s.

Journalist David Wigg shared this story about one of the two Manchester shows today video podcast in 2020: “I went to the concert and I went backstage and Mary [Austin] was there. And they were roaring, calling him back for more, and he came out of the side platform of the stage into the dressing room, picked up an iron and threw it through a full length mirror that he dressed in front of earlier. And I said, ‘Freddie, Gosh! You’re obviously not superstitious. That’s seven years bad luck in my family.’ And he said, ‘Well that means I’ve got another seven years to live, haven’t I, David?'”

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, November 26, 1984 – Queen released their first and only holiday song, ‘Thank God It’s Christmas’ / ‘Keep Passing The Open Windows’ / ‘Man On The Prowl’ UK

In 1984, Queen ventured into the world of holiday songs with the standalone single “Thank God It’s Christmas.” But while Freddie Mercury, a powerful vocalist, it was his ability to pull back for that song that guitarist Brian May recalls so vividly.
In telling the story of its creation, May told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show, “Christmas songs are always recorded in the middle of July. You have to, to get them ready in time.”

This was Roger [Taylor]’s composition, mainly, except he didn’t have a chorus,” he said. “So I contributed the chorus and we worked on it together, to cut a long story short. And then, when it was almost finished, we presented it to Freddie, who loved it and did a beautiful vocal. I think it’s just the most understated vocal, and I love it, you know.”

The funny thing is, it doesn’t get that much attention in Britain as a Christmas single, because it doesn’t have a video,” he continued. “Everything’s about video these days and we never made a video for that song. It’s all in your mind. But I’m very fond of it. I think it’s a very different kind of Christmas song.”

But that all changed In 2019, Queen released a touching animated music video for “Thank God It’s Christmas,” depicting a snowy nightime winter scene in a city. Directed and animated by Justin Moon, its concept came directly from Brian May and Roger Taylor.

The video focuses on a nighttime street scene as glittery snow falls across the silent landscape and Mercury sings about the “long hard year” while giving thanks for Christmas. As the camera pans up it peeks into different apartments to reveal how each family is celebrating the season, ending with a group on the roof watching the Northern Lights streak across the sky.

Speaking about his thoughts behind the video Taylor says: “Ironically, Christmas tends to be such a stressful time for so many of us. So many emotions, joyful memories of past Christmas’ as delighted children and responsible adults / parents. It’s just a great relief when it finally happens.”

May adds: “The video goes a little further by including a subtle reminder that we as humans now need to feel a responsibility for the welfare of all creatures on Earth – not just for our own benefit, and that of our grandchildren, but out of respect for the rights of the animals themselves.”

Roger Taylor and Brian May’s composition, “Thank God It’s Christmas,” spent six weeks in the UK charts over the festive period of 1984 and 1985. It made a re-apearance in the charts in 1995 when it was released alongside Freddie Mercury’s “A Winter’s Tale” from the ‘Made In Heaven’ album

Here’s the beautiful clip

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Queen Live !! November 26, 1979, The band performed at Apollo Theatre in Manchester, England. “Crazy” Tour

This is the first of two nights in Manchester. Because of technical issues with their lighting rig, the show began nearly two hours late.

The band opened with Let Me Entertain You and Tie Your Mother Down on the first night, as they had done at the previous few shows. They switched to the fast We Will Rock You for the second night to shuffle the deck a bit. On this tour, consecutive nights at a venue would never have the same setlist.

An audience recording of this show exists.

It’s a slight coincidence that Queen played in Manchester on November 26th in three different years – 1973, 1975, and 1979.

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